This Machine Can Map and Zap Multiple Tumors at the Same Time
Innovator Samuel Mazin
Chief technology officer of RefleXion Medical Inc., a company with 60 employees in Hayward, Calif.
Form and function
RefleXion’s equipment identifies cancer cells by their metabolic activity, allowing technicians to detect, analyze, and zap multiple tumors in a single treatment, in some cases without the need for a biopsy.
A technician injects a patient with a radioactive glucose tracer before sliding her into the 6-foot-long RefleXion machine.
The RefleXion machine’s positron emission tomography (PET) scanners show the hyperactive metabolic activity of tumors.
A computer-controlled linear accelerator beams X-rays only at tumors, avoiding healthy tissue.
Mazin, an electrical engineer, came up with the idea of simultaneously locating and treating tumors in 2007 while working as a postdoctoral fellow in radiology at Stanford. He founded RefleXion in 2009 with computer engineer Akshay Nanduri.
The company has raised $63 million in venture funding from investors including Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson.
“The new RefleXion unit represents a major paradigm shift in the way we deliver advanced radiation therapy,” says Dwight Heron, director of radiation services at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center CancerCenter, because it eliminates several steps in the process of tumor detection and treatment. The company says its device may also significantly reduce costs, and the prototype will be ready for patient treatment by the end of next year.